Freshman Biology students recently completed a scientific investigation in which they collected bacteria samples from areas throughout Clemente. Students chose different places within the school that they felt were most likely to house a wide variety of bacteria, including the tables in the lunchroom, the door handles to the stairwells, the escalator handrails, the exercise mats in the gym, and many more. Students used large Q-tips to swab their chosen areas for bacteria, and then transferred their specimens onto petri dishes. The dishes were kept in an incubator in the classroom, where students predicted that the bacteria would flourish.
Unfortunately, the bacteria did not grow as students and teachers expected. Freshman student Viviana Carrasco explained why she thought the bacteria did not take to the plates: “I think that the plates may have frozen when they were delivered to school – the agar where the bacteria were supposed to grow was cracked and it shouldn’t have been.” The petri dishes were delivered to school around the time that the polar vortex hit Chicago.
Although the experiment did not turn out as planned, students learned a significant amount of information about bacteria throughout this process. Students explored the topic of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, and participated in class discussions about the pros and cons of antibiotics in the world today. Students hope to recreate this experiment in the future with new petri dishes, and actually examine bacteria’s resistance to antibiotics in class.